IA-Sen: Grassley running a negative ad for the first time in decades

Only a few days after launching his general-election advertising blitz, U.S. Senator Chuck Grassley started running a 30-second commercial attacking his Democratic challenger Patty Judge. I enclose the video and transcript below, along with the response from the Judge campaign.

Grassley did not run any negative commercials during his 2010 re-election bid. In fact, I am fairly certain you’d have to go back to the 1980s to find any attack ads paid for by Grassley’s campaign. UPDATE/CORRECTION: I’ve been told Grassley ran one negative spot against Democratic challenger David Osterberg in 1998, saying (among other things) that the former Iowa lawmaker had been educated in socialist Sweden. SECOND UPDATE: Osterberg confirmed Grassley ran negative advertising in his race, but he recalls that the commercial was on radio rather than television. Scroll to the end of this post for details.

Incumbents who are not worried about the election typically stick to positive messages in their paid media. The last four public polls of Iowa’s U.S. Senate race have found Grassley ahead of Judge by 45 percent to 38 percent (CBS/YouGov), 51 percent to 42 percent (Quinnipiac), and 52 percent to 42 percent (Suffolk and Marist). Those are smaller leads than the senator has had over previous Democratic challengers.

SEPTEMBER 2 UPDATE: The Washington Post’s James Hohmann called Grassley’s ad “another very telling sign of how scared Senate Republicans are running right now,” adding that the attack was “thin gruel.”

The commercial hits former Lt. Gov. Patty Judge for not voluntarily taking a pay cut when the Great Recession led to a state budget deficit. Grassley, of course, has accepted many pay increases when the federal deficit was much larger…

Grassley’s campaign manager Bob Haus told KCCI-TV that the ad “states just the facts pure and simple” and that Grassley will run more commercials focused on Judge’s record.

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Thanks and best wishes to David Osterberg

David Osterberg stepped down yesterday as executive director of the Iowa Policy Project, Iowa’s leading think tank. A legendary figure in this state’s environmental community, Osterberg served six terms in the Iowa House, chairing the Agriculture Committee for four years and the Energy and Environmental Protection Committee for two years. He has received honors and awards from many non-profit organizations and was the Democratic nominee for U.S. Senate against Chuck Grassley in 1998.

In 2001, Osterberg created the Iowa Policy Project “to bring a fact-based focus to public policy issues affecting Iowa families.” The organization’s research reports and Iowa Policy Points blog are must-reads for anyone interested in state policy. In conjunction with the Des Moines-based Child and Family Policy Center, the Iowa Policy Project also publishes valuable research on the Iowa Fiscal Partnership website. The latest Iowa Fiscal Partnership report shows how food assistance programs in the Farm Bill affect thousands of Iowans.

I was pleased to read in the statement enclosed below that Osterberg will keep working with the Iowa Policy Project on energy and environment research, and longtime assistant director Mike Owen will take over as executive director.  

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